‘Nightmare’ of crime ‘plaguing’ Ipswich town centre, club warns

St Stephen's Church Lane Picture: ARCHANT

St Stephen's Church Lane Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

A social club chairman has described the “nightmare” of crime and anti-social behaviour “plaguing” an area of Ipswich.

In January, members of Ipswich Central Conservative Club complained about problems with large groups of people, including boys as young as nine or ten, hanging around in St Stephen’s Church Lane in the afternoons and evenings.

Last Thursday, a man was seriously injured after a fight involving a number of people at about 9.40pm in the area of St Lawrence Church, between Dial Lane and St Lawrence Street.

The victim was taken to Ipswich Hospital with broken ribs and lacerations to his head.

Steve McGoochan, chairman of the Conservative Club, between the Buttermarket shopping centre and Upper Brook Street, said: “This is just one of many incidents, and it’s not getting any better. It’s a nightmare.

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“Like any business in this area, it’s affecting our trade. We’re plagued by it.

“In recent nights, there have been three rough sleepers in the recesses of the alleyway.

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“We get groups of people hanging around, swearing and smoking dope – the smell’s so dense, you could it with a knife.

“I put no blame on the police; I know they’re stretched. We have two local coppers, who do what they can.

“Although it comes in peaks and troughs, depending on when the police show a presence, this is an ever-growing problem.

“The street rangers are limited in what they can do.

“There’s a lot of passing the buck. The whole Arras Square redevelopment was going ahead; then it was put on the back burner [improvements subject to public consultation later in the year before planning permission is sought]. No one seems to be taking responsibility.

“We normally sell 90 tickets for our St George’s Day do; this year we sold 66. One of our lady members tells us she’s scared to come out.

“On New Year’s Eve we book taxis for our customers.”

In January, the club complained of late-night revellers urinating in the street, people drinking, playing loud music and using sexual innuendo towards passing women.

At the time, a Suffolk police spokesman said: “Ipswich Central Safer Neighbourhood Team have received reports of some anti-social behaviour in the area of St Stephen’s Church Lane and Arras Square over recent months and have been working with Ipswich Borough Council to tackle this issue.

“The area is monitored by CCTV and officers respond proactively to any reports of issues in the area. It is routinely patrolled as part of officers’ daily plans and any offences are dealt with robustly.”

Police are appealing for witnesses or anybody who has any information regarding the incident to contact Ipswich CID on 101, quoting reference 21923/19.

Alternatively, contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

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